According to an email sent this afternoon, students will no longer be required to fill out daily attestations to access Columbia facilities, and masking indoors will become optional on campus, effective March 14.
Beginning March 14, masks will be optional inside all Columbia University buildings, according to an email sent by Senior Executive Vice President Gerry Rosberg. Additionally, students will no longer be required to complete a daily symptom attestation to access campus facilities. These changes in policy coincide with an update to the University’s COVID-19 Monitoring Plan, which has seen the University’s current alert level shift from “yellow” to “green.” Health care workers and students involved in clinical activities will still be required to mask while indoors, however. The full text of the email can be found below.
A “green” alert level, deemed “Low Risk,” is issued when vaccination rates among Columbia affiliates are over 95%, weekly COVID-19 hospitalizations among vaccinated individuals in NYC drop below 2.0 per 100,000 people, PCR positivity is below 5% in NYC, and the number of COVID-19 cases per day in NYC remains below 550 on a seven-day rolling average. The University was in the Low Risk category as of March 3.
According to the email, after March 14, campus access will still be linked to compliance with Columbia’s COVID-19 policies, including the vaccination mandate, required testing, and following the Columbia Compact. Random testing of vaccinated affiliates and wastewater surveillance will continue. Rosberg also highlighted the importance of respecting individuals’ choices to continue to wear masks indoors, and affiliates are urged to continue monitoring their symptoms and getting tested for COVID-19 to protect the health of the community.
This shift comes as New York public schools also begin to transition to mask-optional policies, with Governor Kathy Hochul lifting the statewide masking mandate in public schools earlier this week and NYC Mayor Eric Adams indicating that the end of the citywide masking policy in schools will likely be announced Monday. Per Rosberg’s email, CDC guidance has deemed New York City to be in the “low COVID-19 level” due to recent monitoring metrics.
While the email did not specify if the removal of the mask mandate will also extend to unvaccinated individuals, Columbia’s COVID-19 Monitoring Plan states that, even under a “green” alert level, unvaccinated individuals would still be required to mask indoors and outdoors.
The University will continue to monitor COVID-19 in the city and on campus, making adjustments to these policies as needed. As of the time of publication, Barnard has not made a similar statement on indoor mask removal.
Email sent by Sr. Executive Vice President Gerald Rosberg on Thursday, March 3, at 3:05 pm:
Dear Columbia community:
We have good news to report. Under our updated COVID-19 monitoring plan, we are now into the “green zone.” In addition, the City of New York is also currently in the “low COVID-19 level” based on new CDC guidance. The move from “yellow” to “green” reflects favorable metrics in the City as well as for our own campuses. These include low numbers for daily new hospitalizations, transmission rates, and daily new confirmed cases across the City, as well as low COVID-19 positivity among faculty, staff and students, which has now been around 1% for a month.
Being in “green” status allows us to change two key requirements. Effective March 14, we will move to make indoor masking optional and eliminate the daily attestation that is required to access Columbia facilities. Mask-optional means that you may remove your mask indoors, starting on the 14th, if you so choose, but you may of course continue to wear a mask if that is appropriate for you. This change to mask-optional does not apply to health care workers or students involved in health care or clinical activities.
It is important for us as a community to respect an individual’s decision to wear a mask and not to make any assumptions regarding the reasons for that. In addition, although a daily attestation will no longer be required, a green pass will still be required to access University facilities. Even after March 14, University ID card swipe access will remain linked to compliance with COVID-19 training, the Columbia Compact, the vaccination mandate and required testing. It is also important that you continue to evaluate your health status on an ongoing basis, get tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms, and stay home, as appropriate, to keep your colleagues safe.
Moving forward, we will continue to monitor the situation on our own campuses and in the City and make adjustments as needed. For the time being, our random testing program, as well as wastewater testing, will continue. Our buildings will remain subject to swipe access and the green pass, and visitors will continue to have to demonstrate that they are vaccinated.
Thank you for your commitment to the safety of our community.
Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, CUIMC
University COVID Director
Senior Executive Vice President
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